Sloppy Thunderbirds scratch out point in overtime loss at Everett
EVERETT – The Thunderbirds found a way to salvage a point Friday night in a game they had no business being in.
Turnovers and poor puck management led to Seattle being outshot 41-17 by the Everett Silvertips and if not for a valiant effort by rookie goalie Cole Schwebius, the game could have been a blow out. Schwebius made 39 saves in his WHL debut but it wouldn’t be enough as Everett scored the game-winner 17 seconds into overtime off the stick of Connor Dewar to win 2-1.
“Some of the guys we depend on weren’t going tonight,” Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said. “In order to win in the U.S Division, on the road, you need 20 guys pulling the same direction and we didn’t have nearly enough guys doing it.”
The barrage of turnovers and mismanaging of the puck started early for Seattle (2-1-1-0) and it wasn’t unable to generate any sustained pressure until late with the the extra attacker on the ice. Down 1-0, Dillon Hamaliuk powered his way to the front of the net to beat Everett goalie Dustin Wolf for his fourth goal of the year with just 57 seconds left in the game.
That was the only offense the Thunderbirds could muster all night.
Seattle took the first shot of the game but would allow the next eight to Everett (3-2-0-0) who would go on to take an 11-3 first-period shot advantage.
“We’re not moving the puck well enough,” O’Dette said. “(We have) young D that are still learning and at the same time we’ve got to have guys that want the puck and want to be available to receive the puck. Some guys aren’t doing a good enough job wanting it. That’s part of the problem.”
The second period would be much of the same and Schwebius would make 15 more stops.
He found out Thursday evening that he would be starting as Liam Hughes is dealing with what O’Dette labeled a ‘lower body thing’. Thrust into action for his first WHL game, on the road in front of a rival crowed, the 17-year-old rookie stood tall and kept the Thunderbirds in the game.
“He was really good,” O’Dette said of Schwebius. “We couldn’t ask anything more of him tonight. He played great for us and its disappointing that everyone didn’t show up in front of him.”
The Silvertips were finally able to solve Schwebius on a third-period power play.
Bryce Kindopp found room in front of the Seattle net and was able to bang his first goal of the season past Schwebius at the 10:45 mark. Everett ended the evening 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
Seattle was given a golden opportunity to strike back and potentially break the game open when Everett’s Brad Richards was given a five-minute major for checking to the head on a hit that sent Reece Harsch out of the game.
The power play began with just over five minutes left in the period but Seattle could not score on it and would have to settle for the Hamaliuk equalizer just after it ended. The Thunderbirds were 0-for-3 on the power play as they continue to struggle early in the season, now just 2-for-20 in the four games played so far.
“Sometimes when you get a power play like that and you lose some of your pieces to it, with Harsch being out, you kind of have to scramble to piece it together,” O’Dette said of the late game chance. “We started to get some zone time with the 6-on-4 and managed to win some battles for once in the game. We were very fortunate to get one and get a point out of this game.”
In the three-on-three overtime period, Dewar got behind the Seattle players and knocked home a centering pass from Kindopp for his fourth score of the year.
Friday’s game was reminiscent of last Friday’s game on the road in Vancouver. Seattle struggled with puck management in that contest as well but was able to scrape out a win. It’s an issue that O’Dette will continue to work on with his club.
“You need to be able to make plays,” O’Dette said. “Tape-to-tape passes, put two or three passes together to move the puck up the ice. We’ve had trouble doing that and it’s a work in progress. We’ll work on that with our young defensemen but I thought the forwards weren’t doing a good enough job of wanting the puck and making themselves available to help the D-Men.”
The Thunderbirds will have a quick turnaround as they will return home to host the Kelowna Rockets at the accesso ShoWare Center on Saturday at 6 PM.
• O’Dette said after the game that Harsch was still being evaluated and there was no update as to his availability for Saturday. If he is unable to play Seattle will only have five defensemen who can as Cade McNelly will be serving the second game of his three-game suspension.
• Andrej Kukuca did not play for long stretches during the second and third period in what O’Dette said was a coach’s decision.
• With Hughes injured, rookie Eric Ward had been recalled and served as the back up to Schwebius Friday.
• Hamaliuk’s goal was the lone offensive bright spot Friday. He has scored in all four games this year and has a five-game regular season goal scoring streak.